Last month’s facile 17-point victory over Galway was greeted with enthusiasm by many of Mayo’s more excitable fans, but Horan is dampening expectations
Horan didn’t like what he was hearing and felt compelled to address the issue. But why exactly? “I suppose the couple of hundred people that said, ‘It’ll be great to have Cillian (O’Connor) and Mickey (Conroy) back for August’,” he smiled wryly, shaking his head.
“That’s crazy. We’re in a Connacht semi-final, not a Connacht final, never mind an All-Ireland quarter-final. That’s the game we have to play. That dictates what happens next.
“That kind of talk is natural, but it’s daft. Thankfully, we have a lot of smart guys who can see through that and are really focussing on each session we have.”
Mayo have been installed as 1/5 favourites to beat Roscommon and reach their third consecutive Connacht final. Does that makes the manager’s job more difficult? “No, I don’t think so,” he said matter-of-factly. “We’re an experienced team with smart guys and a good management set-up. It’s about bringing a sensible approach to things.”
Roscommon, who haven’t beaten Mayo in the championship since the 2001 Connacht final, won’t be concerning themselves too much with the bookies’ odds either this week.
Horan is the first to admit John Evans’ charges will be hard to break down and are likely to be stubborn, abrasive opponents.
“A lot of their games in Division 3 they conceded very low scores. They’re a hard team to play against, a hard team to score against, and with John Evans there will be a bit of passion there. They’ll be a formidable challenge.
“Roscommon are a very good football team, but they’re also very physical and strong. They’re quite a big team. Michael Finneran, Karol Mannion, Senan Kilbride, they’re big strong players that can win any type of ball.
“They take a lot of ball out the wings, they try and get it out there very early. Their wing-forwards are quite defensive so there are quite a few things different to the Galway game.”
But he insists the Galway victory counts for nought this weekend.
“We haven’t felt the real heat of championship yet, and I’m sure Roscommon will try and bring that on Sunday. I think we’re a team with a lot of ability and a lot of ambition. That’s a start, a platform for us to build on.
“We need to make sure we springboard off the Galway game and make sure we make progress. We know if we do our stuff we’re a match for any team. If we do everything right, get the inputs right, and get a performance at the top of our range, then we’re up there with any team. That’s what we’re trying to do.”